By Lee Pritchard
This article explains why I created Media Music Now and why I took the decision to sell directly rather than through royalty-collecting societies.
As a composer, I have been approached many times by SME’s (small to medium enterprises) to provide music for media purposes.
In my personal experience, the client usually wants and prefers a complete buyout on music they wish to use. It is fair to say that most companies don’t really have a great understanding of copyright laws or royalty collecting societies and what they do, so composers usually end up doing a deal that involves a one-time payment directly, just like most regular business transactions.
With Media Music Now, I have taken the concept to a wider audience and have made our music library accessible to all SME’s on this basis. Effectively, I specialise in being the middleman for the music maker, offering a revenue stream where conventional methods often miss out.
Most up-and-coming composers aspire to live from the proceeds of life-long royalty cheques for music they wrote years ago. Unfortunately, the reality is that this probably won’t happen unless they are established soundtrack composers or have music in the top 40, so most of their income has to be from direct sales.
Royalty Collecting Societies…good or bad?
I don’t have anything against collecting societies. On the whole, I think they provide a great service to their members. Avoiding the use of royalty collecting societies is a decision I made based on my target market and my business methodology.
For composers, collecting societies tend to be most effective when their music is used by major broadcasters or included in a mass duplication product, such as a feature film released on DVD.
The drawback is that many non-mainstream music uses are paid for in the form of a blanket license. This means that the composer gets paid on a pro-rata basis, calculated on a sample of playlists rather than for every use of their music. In this instance, big mainstream artists/composers almost always get paid something because they have a greater presence in the world, whereas the lesser-known composer gets paid if they’re lucky!
The problem for an SME or individual who wants to use music on their website, viral marketing campaign or on- hold system etc., is that the conventional royalty fees are often cost-prohibitive and they end up not using music at all.
Music royalty collection is an age-old problem that does not seem to be getting any better with technology – it just seems to become more convoluted in my opinion.
I think my fresh pragmatic approach to this problem works extremely well for the independent composer/artist and offers SME’s an affordable, safe solution.